There’s a spectre haunting this year’s Ashes tournament and it’s called COVID-19, as reports circulate about players in the England cricket team potentially considering withdrawing.
The concerns about England have largely stemmed from eastern Australia’s current COVID-19 crisis, as well as the fact that they will have to travel without their families or partners.
PM Scott Morrison has held discussions with UK Prime Minster Boris Johnson about the scheduled matches, but said that he will not do “special deals”, which would allow the players’ families to come to Australia.
The Ashes feature five test matches in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, with each test taking up to five days.
As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, it is not just the lack of family presence concerning some of England’s players. There are also fears that the players will be stuck in quarantine hotels, similar to the Indian team earlier this year, who were confined to their hotels other than training and playing.
Despite the conjecture, Cricket Australia told B&T it is confident the series can go ahead without a hitch.
“CA and the ECB are working constructively towards the Ashes this summer including arrangements that can be put in place for players and families from both sides. This includes working proactively with governments on providing the best possible conditions for both the English and Australian players.
“CA is also buoyed by the significant rise in vaccination rates across the country with all Australian and English players and support staff also being fully vaccinated. We have every confidence all matches will proceed on the scheduled dates and locations.”
The Ashes is broadcast on the Seven Network, which has a four-year, $70-million deal with Cricket Australia.
Seven declined to comment for this piece.
Any cancellations or significant fixture changes would likely add to an already tense situation between the broadcaster and Cricket Australia.
Earlier this year, Seven was awarded a $5.3 million fee reduction from its current media rights agreement, after the series between Australia and India was disrupted due to COVID-19.
With reporting by Edward Pollitt.
Featured Image: Ashes Day 4 2019, England & Wales Cricket Board
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